Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Listening to the Leaves

I had just about the best week you could imagine last week. And that’s even considering the Exploding Quiche.

I spent a lot of time on the road last week; it seemed like I drove a couple of hours every day and burned up about three tanks of gas just going back and forth to civilization. But every trip was for something unique and exciting. I went to Garland for a gathering of young adults to talk about starting a group from several different churches. I went to a meeting in Longview to help plan a Women’s Retreat based on the way we do ours at the Garland church. Probably the most interesting field trip of the week was meeting a friend for lunch who gave me a tour of Hockaday School in Dallas, where she works. Hockaday is a very exclusive private school for girls. The words “private” and “exclusive” tell you why I’ve never been inside the gates and I felt a little like Dorothy entering Oz. However, the lunch with my friend was even better. Lunches with friends top just about any event.

That will explain how great it was to have two of the most peaceful women I know came out for lunch on Friday. We spent a lot of time sitting outdoors just listening to the leaves fall. Yes, leaves make a sound when they fall. If you get quiet enough you can hear each individual leaf as it hits the ground then scrapes against the dirt as it settles down for winter. We went for a walk in the woods and I noticed that the air now has that distinctive smell that you get only in the autumn when the oak leaves change color and dry out then stiffen and float through the air as they leave the tree. Pine needles and cedar have their own unique smell in summer when the heat releases their oils. The two events smell very different but heavenly in their own way.

We sat outside on the deck for a long time. It’s unusual for me to sit still and I asked Traci and Nancy, “Are ya’ll bored or just being peaceful?” I figure a good hostess checks things like that. They assured me they were enjoying the quiet.

Someone spotted a hawk in a tree across the creek. The way it sat on the tree branch was almost like it was showing off for us. We even suggested that we could tell more about the bird if he would show us his profile. A few minutes later, almost like he had heard us, he turned his head. I went into the house and got the binoculars and a couple of bird books. For the next hour, we watched it fly from tree to tree encircling us, finally ending up in the original tree.

I have to admit that without good friends to sit with I never would have sat still long enough to witness it all. I am grateful to them for their visit--it gave me a reason to be still in my own backyard and watch what God sends to me every day. And I had to send God a little prayer of apology for wasting such a gift.

I had to feel some regret, however, that Traci and Nancy missed the Quiche Explosion because it was truly remarkable. The recipe called for me to pre-bake the pie crust. When the crust was cooked to a golden brown I set the glass pie plate on the top of the stove to cool. Then, ever the multi-tasker, I filled a pan with water for the tea and turned on a burner to heat the water. I went into the living room to check email while the water for the tea heated. I figured I would fill and bake the quiche later. But in the midst of email there was a loud “POW!” followed by the distinctive sound of a zillion glass shards landing on every surface in my kitchen: counter tops, window sill, stove, sink, floor—you get the picture. Then smoke filled the house.

Without setting foot in my kitchen I knew immediately what had happened. I had turned on the wrong burner and the heat under the supposedly “cooling” pie shell had caused the glass pie plate to shatter. Then the pie crust had settled on the bare burner and instantly burned to a crisp. I know these things, sadly, through vast experience. When I got to the kitchen there was a perfectly round but black pie crust settled on the burner and sort of lapping over the edges like a Salvador Dali painting. And, of course, glass was everywhere.

This gave me a new hobby. For the next few months I'll be picking up glass shards from every surface of my kitchen. My granddaughters may never be allowed to go barefoot in my house again. In the meantime, I still had to make another quiche. I didn’t pre-bake the pie crust for this one, though. I’ve decided that life is too short to waste on stuff like that, especially when you factor in the time to clean up after dumb mistakes.

Maybe I should stick to listening to the leaves.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

good lord, so glad this is your story and not mine, deb

Anonymous said...

and now you have a permanent reminder to listen to the leaves whenever you look at the burned flooring!
You are the ultimate Host!
n~